How to check out a hoax
Answers to How to check out a hoax
Have you heard the one about the grandma who tried to dry her dog in the microwave and the pup exploded? Or how about the guy who got drunk at a party and woke up packed in ice and missing a kidney?
If your inbox is inundated with email from well meaning friends who want you to know the scoop on all the newest viruses and scary stories, you are not alone. To keep the craziness under control, follow these easy steps to check out a hoax.
Step 1: Check out the web. With all the hoaxes and urban legends wandering the internet, it’s often best to go to the source. Use the internet to check out a hoax two ways.
* Search for the hoax and you may find the background in minutes.
* If not, check Snopes and search the subject. There are hundreds of hoaxes to choose from and information is updated regularly.
Step 2: Consider the source. Check the history on the email you received. If it was sent from an acquaintance whom you barely know, it is likely a random forward. Also check if the email has been making the rounds by several forwards. For almost a decade, the email about Bill Gates giving away his fortune has been circling no matter how many people confirm it as a falsehood.
Step 3: Know your urban legends. If you are tired of checking every urban legend or hoax you come across, then catch up on the classics. Check out one of many books about urban legends. Here are some resources I recommend.
* Urban Legends: 666 Absolutely True Stories That Happened to a Friend…of a Friend of a Friend by Thomas J. Craughwell
* Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand
* The Big Book of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand, Robert Loren Fleming and Robert F. Boyd
* MythBusters: The Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time by Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage
Step 4: Trust you instincts. Remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is untrue. No one is giving away free money just for forwarding an email. If a story seems too bizarre, it likely is. Go with your gut and ignore anything you suspect is a hoax. If you are truly concerned, return to number one and check out the web.
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